Residents of Rutland can rest assured their neighbourhood community police station can now do just as much as the detachment downtown—though only for the next six months.
Monday morning Kelowna RCMP announced they will expand to offer a full compliment of detachment services at both the downtown and Rutland Road locations, though the service increase is only part of a six-month pilot project at this point.
“What we’re trying to do is improve the service delivery to the citizens that live out here,” said Supt. Bill McKinnon. “There has been considerable growth up in the Black Mountain area and up on the Mackenzie Bench and with that growth we’re trying to improve the service level for the people that live in this area.
“On a typical day, with the growth, it will probably take you 25-30 minutes to get to the Doyle Street office. So if I lived out here, I think I would say that’s unacceptable,” McKinnon added.
The detachment will now be able to take complaints and open police files, do fingerprints, complete criminal record checks for the general public and handle found property receipts.
Operating Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the office will be staffed by an average of four or five officers, plus the Rutland school liaison officer. Those officers have been in place for over a year as the RCMP already made a decision to move some officers over from the rural detachment in West Kelowna to deal with complaints which fall outside Kelowna’s jurisdiction on this side of the bridge—generally at Big White.
The new office means the RCMP will take a city staff person from their downtown office up to the new Rutland one to handle the front counter, which has been operated by volunteers to date.
Should the RCMP decide the pilot project is worth making a permanent venture, McKinnon would have to get Kelowna city council to agree to pay $60,000 per administrative staff member.
Success will be gaged by service improvements, particularly in dealing with criminal record check clearances, which have been backing up at the downtown office.
“We’re running about a month behind on those security clearances for people,” said McKinnon, adding “hopefully we’re going to be able to take some of the burden off of our downtown office.”
McKinnon said the project was fuelled by requests for service from those living in the area, but noted he had not been lobbied for the change.
Renovations have already been completed on the building to handled the expansion of officers, and a computer installed at the front desk which has the RCMP’s computer system—PRIME.
The downtown office, meanwhile, will be using floater staff to deal with any staffing gaps.
Rutland and downtown are the busiest neighbourhoods for RCMP and the superintendent noted the expansion of the university has also weighed on his decision.